skip to content
🔖 Thinking with Linked Data; Representing History

Given these limitations, historians need to work hard to prevent the data model itself from becoming a site of distortion and misrepresentation that wrongly projects a false degree of stability and permanence. For example, in the community I am studying, information about partner relations between adults comes in many forms. There are few clearly documented sacramental marriages, but many couples are listed together as parents of children, and others are discussed in terms of family units in ledgers and correspondence. In my data model, I have decided to use the Relationship Vocabulary property “Spouse Of” to be the predicate connecting these individuals. That choice signals the likely relationship in question, but it offers us no way to note the precarity and uncertainty of those relationships under slavery. Does the RDF structure lend an impression of stability and fixity to that relationship that likely does not reflect the historical reality? It may. And it is my job as a scholar to adequately make those possible distortions clear throughout the many facets or the project.